Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply title=
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply
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Source: Montecito Water District

[Last week] the Governor called for 15% voluntary reduction in water use across California, and included Santa Barbara County in the expanded regional drought state of emergency. Montecito Water District customers reduced water consumption by a remarkable 56% during previous drought conditions.  However, use has ramped up significantly since December, 2020.  Customer demand was again reported as over budget at last month’s Board meeting.

Customer demand remained relatively low during the wet years, 2018 and 2019, that marked drought’s end—or hiatus. Below-average rainfall conditions returned in 2020-21 and customer demand has increased while water supply availability is decreasing. Pandemic-related restrictions, such as limited travel which meant more at-home time for residents, may have further contributed to increased local water use over the past year.

“We are hopeful that the Governor’s announcement will help our customers to prioritize water efficiency,”said Adam Kanold, Assistant General Manager and Engineering Manager for the District. “We’ve been going full-throttle to bolster the District’s supplies and infrastructure. Now we’re asking community members to partner with us in taking a hard look at what they can do to avoid water waste.”

Since 2016, the District has taken several actions to improve the dependability and drought resilience of its water supplies. These actions include purchasing groundwater storage rights in Semitropic Groundwater Banking and Exchange Program, establishing the Montecito Groundwater Basin Groundwater Sustainability Agency, and finalizing a 50-year water supply agreement with the City of Santa Barbara secured by its desalination facility.  The District is also pursuing the development of a feasible recycled water project focused on maximizing the use of available wastewater.

Smart Meter Installation

Caption: Desalination and “Smart meters” are among the District’s many recent actions to improve drought resiliency.

The District’s Capital improvement projects provide other means of maximizing water efficiency and minimizing water loss. New “smart” meters have been installed for all customers, which will give them access to real time water use data when they are fully implemented this fall. Replacing aging pipelines, which the District does on a continuous schedule, makes them less vulnerable to main breaks that can contribute to water loss.

The District’s actions have significantly improved water supply security for the communities of Summerland and Montecito, yet supplies are likely to be stressed Statewide by the drought—and the District must adhere to its water budget. Droughts in California are forecast to continue increasing in intensity, duration and frequency and recent rainfall statistics emphasize the unknowns.

Customers are urged to carefully evaluate their properties and take advantage of any opportunities available to reduce water use–such as improving irrigation methods and improving landscaping.   The District is readily available to assist customers in comparing current usage with prior years, making adjustments to reduce use, and monitoring carefully for leaks. Free consultations are available with the District’s Conservation Specialist - please call 805.969.2271 for additional information.

Rainfall Chart 7-2021

In the past decade, only 3 years delivered above average rainfall. The “pack” is running well below average, and this past year was the lowest of the bunch. 

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ChillinGrillin Jul 13, 2021 04:30 PM
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

Big agriculture is the problem. People imagine agriculture as a quaint and hardworking enterprise, who doesn't like farmers? In reality farms have become huge enterprises spanning tens of thousands of acres. They use about 80% of California water, make a boatload in subsidies, and ship most of their crops (and indirectly our water) out of state. Nothing will ever be done about these giant welfare queens because they bribe too many politicians with campaign contributions. It makes no economic or environmental sense to keep growing vegetables in 100+ degree heat but it will keep happening because both political parties are bought and paid for.

ChillinGrillin Jul 13, 2021 09:19 PM
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

I agree that those nonessentials are a big part of the problem but there are bigger culprits. Take almonds, alfalfa to feed cattle, rice and pistachios for example. Any one of those probably uses more water than grapes and weed put together. I only say probably because water use for weed isn’t measured by gov agencies and there is still a resilient black market. Growing rice in our climate is pure insanity. Food crops are necessary but can be grown more economically and sustainably elsewhere. Farmers like to talk about keeping jobs here, which would be valid save for the fact that they mostly employ migrant workers who send much of their earnings back to Latin America. Like I said though, debating this is pointless because the outcome is already decided by lobbyists and campaign contributors.

RHS Jul 13, 2021 06:34 PM
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

Remember, MWD is trying to get the state to allow them to inject desalinated water that they got cheap from SB into their aquifer to allow the wells to continue to pump it out free of cost to the well owner! Crocodile tears about conservation notwithstanding, this is a con and we (SB users) are the victims, abetted by our officials I might add.

Andrea Smith Jul 14, 2021 09:21 AM
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

Wine grapes take very little water actually especially older vines that have very deep roots. Weed on the other hand is problematic and we will see leaps in usage from these pot farms. Did they think about that? And not to mention, they want us to conserve while they keep building these massive housing developments many with pools and such, what about a building moratorium and a moratorium on new pot farms until this is rectified? I'm not interested in drinking recycled water if that is what they are thinking - look up the Real Water debacle where people got really sick from recycled bottled water.

Ahlia Jul 14, 2021 12:30 PM
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

After every drought is declared "over" the signs on the cafe tables that say they will only serve water if requested in order to conserve water are "removed" :-( ..... I ask myself the same question every few years.... Why are we not conserving water ALL of the time ??? The cafes would save money on water, & having to wash & rinse all of these wasted, unused, unwanted glasses of precious drinking water. Not to mention the MANY that are served in plastic cups that are NOT being recycled anymore :-(

Watcher237 Jul 14, 2021 09:22 PM
Voluntary Conservation Called for as Drought Conditions Place Extra Demand on Water Supply

Except that... THERE IS NO WATER SHORTAGE!!! Only a shortage of vision...

Anyone taking a peek in the direction of west (or south for you south-coasters), may notice a hint of what I'm talking about... Those who are studious will have already learned the surface of the earth is 71% WATER. Nope, no shortage of water. There is plenty. It just needs proper treatment, as we all do.

Further, it is the responsibility of water boards to secure, provide, and manage adequate water resources for their customers. I say they're falling down on their primary responsibility. Big time.

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